Denise Nickerson Dies: ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ Actress Was 62
Nickerson’s family revealed the news in a Facebook message. She was taken off life support Tuesday after a “major medical emergency” on Monday that saw her admitted to a Colorado hospital ICU. The former actress had suffered a severe stroke in 2018.
Born in New York City in 1957, Nickerson’s first major TV role was in fantasy-horror series Dark Shadows.
In 1971, she was cast in composer John Barry’s ill-fated musical Lolita, My Love. Soon after that she got her signature role, aged only 13, opposite Gene Wilder as the gum-chewing brat Violet Beauregarde in the movie update of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
In the hit movie, her character misses out on winning the factory after she is unable to resist a chewing gum meal. She ends up being turned into a giant blueberry.
Nickerson’s other credits include CBS series Search For Tomorrow and beauty pageant satire Smile. She was also a regular on comedy variety show The Electric Company.
She went into semi-retirement as an actress at the age of 21.